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Hunt and Peck Vs. Touch Typing: Can Typing with Two Fingers Be as Fast As with 10?

There are plenty of people who can type quickly using just two fingers. Like with any skill, typing with just two fingers takes practice, and with more practice, speed and accuracy will improve.

So why bother learning to touch type with all ten fingers if you can do fine with just two? The bottom line is that even the fastest hunt and peck typists will never be able to type as quickly as someone who is making use of all ten of their digits. Below, we explore the most efficient method of typing for speed and accuracy.

What is hunt and peck typing?

Hunt and peck typing is a technique using one finger from each hand–usually the index or middle fingers–to “hunt” for keys on the keyboard. Generally, this involves breaking focus from a computer screen in order to look down at the keyboard to type a word.

So why bother learning to touch type with all ten fingers if you can do fine with just two? The bottom line is that even the fastest hunt and peck typists will never be able to type as quickly as someone who is making use of all ten of their digits with the touch typing technique.

What is touch typing?

According to the Oxford dictionary, touch typing is “the practice or skill of typing using all one’s fingers and without looking at the keys.” This is learned over time with correct instruction and regular practice with two hands and all ten fingers.

Typing Efficiency

Hopping from one key to the next with the same finger is almost like trying to pedal a bike with one leg. Sure you could learn to hop back and forth pretty quickly, but you’ll never be as fast as if you were using your left foot for the left pedal and your right foot on the right pedal.

Like with a bicycle, each key on the keyboard has a finger that is responsible for it. This is designed so that your fingers move as little as possible.

Thus, if you keep your fingers on the home row and only move the necessary finger, you’re guaranteed to go faster than if you’re moving your whole hands and wrists around the keyboard. With hunt and peck, you might move your index finger up four rows or horizontally across the whole keyboard just to find the letter you need, which is ultimately inefficient and tiring. With touch typing, each finger has its “home key” on the keyboard layout where it rests when it’s inactive.

Muscle Memory

Despite its name, muscle memory isn’t stored in your muscles, it’s stored in a part of your brain called the cerebellum. Although the cerebellum only makes up 10% of your brain volume, it contains over 50% of the brain’s neurons.

When you learn a new movement, your brain creates a memory of the pieces that make up that movement and stores it in your cerebellum. Scientists call this motor learning.

Committing typing to muscle memory frees you from devoting mental energy to thinking about each letter as you type it. You’ll be able to focus on the content you’re typing rather than thinking about (or looking for) the next key to press. When your fingers know where to go automatically, it’s very relaxing and efficient.

Repetition strengthens your brain’s memory of “the right way” to perform the task and consolidates the results into muscle memory. Thus, the more repetitions you’ve performed, the more your brain has to analyze.

Put simply—the more you practice, the stronger your muscle memory will be.

Typing without looking at the keyboard engages all four brain hemispheres.

Practicing the wrong way can be detrimental, as bad habits tend to crop up when you’re under pressure. And they are much harder to correct later.

So, we can help you retrain yourself early on to avoid repeating the same mistakes and hardwiring them into muscle memory. In other words, it’s better to learn to touch type now to avoid training the brain to learn to hunt and peck the keys and then having to unlearn it later.

To take advantage of this, we recommend you to take a custom practice lesson made up for your problem keys at least once a week.

Average Typing Speeds

The average typing speed when using only two fingers is 27 words per minute (WPM) when copying and 37 WPM when typing from memory. The average typing speed for someone touch typing with ten fingers is between 40 and 60 WPM.

While this might not seem like a huge difference on a minute-by-minute basis, the extra time it takes to only use two fingers certainly adds up. For example, if you write 10 emails a day for work, it might take you around 2 hours to write these emails using just two fingers at a rate of 27 WPM. It would take closer to 1 hour to write the same emails if you were touch typing at a speed of 50 WPM. That adds up to a full hour of extra time every day!

Looking beyond just the average typing speed, some exceptionally fast hunt and peck typists can reach up to 70 WPM, but the fastest touch typists can break 100 WPM! This means that as you get faster, the speed disparity between two-finger typing and touch typing only grows.

Typing Accuracy

In addition to being slower, hunt and peck typing also tends to be less accurate. Since you need to be looking at the keys much more when typing with two fingers, you are less likely to catch mistakes as you make them–meaning it will take you more time to go back and proofread work once you’ve finished. Touch typists, on the other hand, can do this all at the same time, reading as they type and correcting as they go along.

There is no doubt about it: touch typing is a much better bet than the hunt and peck method! So before you wear out those index fingers, it’s worth investing the time and effort that it takes to learn to type with all ten fingers. And it’s never too early or late to get started!

The lessons at Typing.com walk you through the basics to train you to start using all 10 of your fingers. Get started now, and you’ll be well on your way to faster typing speeds before you know it.

Find out your typing speed and accuracy with our online speed typing tests.